8. History in Stone From St. Paul to Albert Einstein

Cathedral of St John the Divine Washington, Lincoln, Shakespeare, and ColumbusClockwise from top left: William Shakespeare, George Washington ,  Abraham Lincoln and Christopher Columbus representing their respective centuries

In 1922, at a cost of $16,000, the Cathedral installed a stone parapet. The parapet contained “one sculpture for each of the Christian centuries, each figure being that of the personage who in that 100 years did the most, in the opinion of the Cathedral authorities, for the uplift of the world.”

The twentieth-century niche was left empty with instructions that it was to remain empty for seventy-eight years in order to determine who would be worthy of filling the void for the century. According to the New York Times, the front runners in 1922 were Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Lloyd George, and Charles Evans Hughes.

Cathedral of St John the Divine Martin Luther King, Jr., Mahatma Gandhi, Susan B. Anthony, and Albert Einstein
Figures representing the twentieth-century, from left: Martin Luther King, Jr., Albert Einstein, Susan B. Anthony, and Mahatma Gandhi